In the late sixth century BCE artists began to use the red-figure technique. This technique reverses the process used
earlier in the century—the black slip is used for the background, leaving the unglazed red clay for the figures. Details
are painted on using slip and a fine brush, which allows the artist much greater freedom.
Euthymides, Revelers, red-figure amphora, c. 510 BCE
Red-figure vases also show much more movement, more twisting of the body in space, and more foreshortening,
with arms or legs seeming to reach out or move back in space. We know from written sources that around 450 BCE,
a painter named Polygnotus began using more sophisticated ways of showing space. Instead of setting all figures
on the ground line, artists began to think about a ground plane that goes back into space. By placing figures higher
up on the ground plane and making them smaller they seem to be further back in the space; this effect is called
recession in space. Paintings by Polygnotus do not survive, but we can see how a vase painter known as the Niobid
Painter attempted to use these techniques (although he clearly misunderstood some of them).
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